Dr. Haasbeek Completes Medical Mission to Costa Rica

Team from St. Lawrence Health System Provides Life-altering Care

POTSDAM -- It’s good for the soul.” That’s how St. Lawrence Health System’s Jeffrey Haasbeek, MD, FRCSC, pediatric orthopedic surgeon and adult hand surgery specialist, describes doing mission work in other countries.

He recently returned from a mission trip to Costa Rica, where the surgical team performed fifteen life-changing surgeries for children of less fortunate families.

“Medical care in many countries is reserved for the wealthy,” said Dr. Haasbeek, who traveled to Costa Rica in the company of Randy McDonald, certified registered nurse Anesthetist at CPH, and Lisa McDonald, RN, an operating room nurse who also practices with CPH.

“If we didn’t do this, young children would have vastly different lives,” said Dr. Haasbeek. “We offer care, and we offer training to caregivers in other countries, and at the same time we help ourselves to become better human beings.”

He cites the example of parents of a three-year-old child who came to see him. The child had suffered a shoulder injury during birth. The injury left him able to use his hand and move his elbow, but he had no use of his shoulder.

Dr. Haasbeek surgically transferred the child’s latissimus dorsi (literally the broadest muscle of the back) to the rotator cuff (a capsule formed of tendons that supports shoulder movement), which restored the child’s ability to use his shoulder.

“The child and his parents were so grateful,” said Dr. Haasbeek. “It makes you value what you have in this country, and also teaches you about happiness—it doesn’t come from having more money or more things. It comes from inside and from having good health,” he added.

The surgery was typical of the soft-tissue surgeries performed by Dr. Haasbeek and his team.

“We stuck to soft-tissue surgeries this trip because we had trouble at the border bringing in some of our equipment that would have allowed us to do more major surgeries involving bones and joints,” said Dr. Haasbeek.

Normally on his mission trips the surgical team performs 50 to 60 surgeries, and many that are more advanced surgeries. Even with the border issues, the team was still able to leave behind 50 large packages of donated equipment.

This was the third of three trips Dr. Haasbeek has taken under the auspices of Community Cares for Kids, a not-for-profit organization based in Shavertown, Penn., that supports medical missions to the developing world.

Dr. Haasbeek has previously completed five missions to Ecuador, and one to India. Several of these trips included his daughters and son, who are interested in following in their father’s footsteps.

“Missions can prepare children to mature in a way that cannot be accomplished at home,” said Dr. Haasbeek. “It helps them understand what really makes a life worthwhile.”

When he is not traveling for mission work, Dr. Haasbeek sees patients from all across the North Country region at his office at the E. J. Noble Professional Building at 80 East Main Street in Canton, and once a month at Gouverneur Hospital, 77 West Barney Street, Gouverneur.

For more information about Dr. Haasbeek, interested individuals may visit www.cphospital.org. For information about Community Cares for Kids, visit www.communitycaresforkids.org.